The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed more than 200 million Indians into poverty, widened the inequality gap, and hit disproportionately disadvantaged communities hard.
As per the India Philanthropy Report 2022, the total social sector expenditure in India has seen a robust 12% annual growth from approximately Rs 10 lakh crore to about Rs 17.5 lakh crore over the past five years. Most of this rise, however, has been a result of increased government expenditure: public funds (central and state social expenditure) account for approximately 93% of the total, up from approximately 90% five years ago.
As with any developing nation, the Indian government has been taking most of this burden, but with increasing fiscal deficit and higher debt burden following the pandemic, government finances will be limited. It is thus important for private philanthropy – CSR, retail giving, family philanthropy – to realise its true potential and bridge some of this gap.
For India to be a stable society where opportunities are created for millions to further their lives, it is imperative that donors support the many good NGOs who help the less fortunate of our country and provide them with opportunities to flourish. Based on our experience with corporates, family foundations, individual donors, while causes like environment and animal welfare are now gaining traction, children’s education and healthcare continue to remain the pet causes.
In this article, we have focused on challenges faced by underprivileged children and how many NGOs in India are working towards addressing them, and providing these children with better opportunities to flourish and break out of poverty.
NGOs working with children primarily focus on one or more of the following:
- Access to education: Underprivileged children do not have the resources or means to attend school; Education is a key factor in breaking the cycle of poverty and can provide children with opportunities to succeed in the future.
- Health and nutrition: These programs can improve the health and well-being of children, which is crucial for their development.
- Protection and safety: Children NGOs often work to protect children from abuse, neglect, and exploitation. They provide support and resources to help children who have been victimized and work to prevent further harm.
- Empowerment: Run programmes and utilise resources to empower children to become leaders in their communities. They provide opportunities for children to develop important life skills and build self-confidence, which can help them succeed in the future.
- Sustainable change: Supporting children can help create sustainable change in the communities. By providing children with education, healthcare, and support, they are more likely to grow up to become successful, contributing members of society.
There are many NGOs in India that work towards the above areas and focus on improving the lives of disadvantaged children. One of the easiest ways to support these children is to donate to a reputable NGO. To make life easy for you, we have shortlisted 5 Best Children NGOs in India:
1. Action Against Hunger (earlier called Fight Hunger Foundation)
India still has one of the worst rates of child malnutrition in the world, despite decades of investment to address this problem. India is ranked at the bottom of the Global Hunger Index (2022), which is determined by factors such as child stunting, wasting, and death placing India in 107th rank of 121 Countries. (Source: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/new-updates)
Action Against Hunger is dedicated to the treatment and prevention of malnutrition. Their work includes: (i) Treatment: Providing home-based treatment to children suffering from moderate acute malnutrition and referring children with severe acute malnutrition to the nearest Nutrition Rehabilitation Centres. (ii) Prevention: Educating and counseling pregnant, and lactating mothers on ANC, PNC, pregnancy care, maternal and child nutrition, breastfeeding and care practices, complimentary feeding etc. This ensures healthy deliveries and enables families to raise their children to be healthy and strong. (iii) Sustainability: Training Anganwadi, ASHA and other Government front-line workers on identifying signs of acute malnutrition in children, taking corrective action, maternal and child nutrition and sanitation. This strengthens the existing Government structure.
2. Akshaya Patra
Would you be able to learn if hunger was your classroom companion? Classroom hunger affects children’s ability to learn and grow. Akshaya Patra is focused on eliminating classroom hunger, increasing enrolments in schools, and reducing dropout rates by providing children with nutritious mid-day meals, every school day.
With support from the central and state governments, Akshaya Patra began operating its Mid-Day Meal Programme in 2000 and has inculcated guidelines related to child health and growth, calories intake, protein requirements, etc. This wholesome meal is often the only source of nutrition for many of the beneficiaries. Thus, Akshaya Patra prepares nutritious meals that suit the local palate as well. Eg. kitchens in the northern parts of India serve rotis while kitchens in the southern areas serve rice.
Their vision is ‘No child in India shall be deprived of education because of hunger.’ Today, Akshaya Patra feeds free mid-day meals to 2 million school children in 22,000+ Government schools and Government-aided schools across multiple states and union territories.
Despite its high prevalence, violence against children is often hidden, unseen or under-reported. It is not widely acknowledged or understood. There is a silence around the issue of Child Sexual Abuse stems from the fear of shame, denial and social stigma and the foundational belief in the family being sacred and family honour being supreme.
With a vision to ensure ‘A World Free of Child Sexual Abuse (CSA)’, Arpan enables individuals, families, communities and society with prevention and intervention skills to reduce the occurrence of CSA and heal its psychological, social, sexual and physical consequences. Personal Safety Education (PSE), Arpan’s flagship program, is a comprehensive life-skill education programme that approaches CSA with the perspective of prevention and healing providing direct services to children, adolescents and adults. It is conducted in schools and community set-ups with children from Grades 1 to 10 to provide them with the knowledge and skills required to prevent CSA and seek support if such an incident occurs. Counselling services along with psycho-education and psychotherapeutic support are also provided to family members of these children.
4. Opentree Foundation (Toybank)
Why is development through play important? Play has the ability to build resilience and develop life skills to counteract negative environments that at-risk children may grow up in. This enables them to make better choices that support positive development and grow up to be well-rounded adults.
Toybank focuses on the behavioural and mental growth of at-risk children in their most impressionable years of life. The NGO collaborates with institutions in urban and rural India by setting up Play Centres within their premises and conducts educational play sessions, team building activities and other development workshops through morally correct board games and toys. Play centres are spaces where children can have play sessions. These sessions consist of playing with educational games, which instruct as well as amuse. The presence of a trained field officer ensures that children are fully engaged in the play session, and that they get to use the games in the way that is intended. These games are stocked keeping in mind the children’s developmental needs. Thanks to these play sessions, Toybank has successfully reduced absenteeism, boosted cooperation among children and helped them learn better.
5. Visamo Kids Foundation (VKF)
Access to education remains a significant issue for the disadvantaged children of India. According to the Annual Status of Education Report, over 35% of children in rural areas do not attend school. Education is essential for a child’s future and helps break the vicious cycle of poverty.
VKF aims to make fundamental changes in their lives and thoughts by providing free education for the underprivileged children of Gujarat, with the hope that they will in turn upgrade their families and society. They started with 18 children from poor families of earthquake affected regions of Gujarat. VKF manages a Parentage Home that provides lodging, boarding, education support to these children. Every year, qualifying students gain admission at the age of 5 years and stay at this Home till they complete Grade 12. VKF provides medical aid, counselling sessions, academic supervision, guidance and frequent parent-child interaction. Some of their beneficiaries have attained formal education and are pursuing professional career/ graduation of their choices like Chartered Accountancy, Engineering and Fine Arts.
These are just a few examples of the many NGOs working towards the welfare of children in India. Each of these organizations has a unique focus and approach towards the welfare of children and play a vital role in ensuring the well-being of children across India.
Please note that the above list is not an exhaustive list of the best children’s NGOs and have been selected from the HelpYourNGO database based on our interactions with their programme team, NGO visit, previously/currently supported programme, etc.
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